1. Fixed by Force is your breakthrough novel. What got you started writing? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
My writing started with my five-page, fully illustrated stories from childhood, called, “Blue Man vs. Green Man”. ;) I have no idea what they were about, but the characters always became friends at the end! Now I enjoy writing stories, poems and even songs. I try to write something daily. Writing is one of my favorite things to do, although all the editing, spelling, and grammar can be exhausting. Being able to watch something come together out of nothing, creating something that others can be affected and inspired by...that's an awesome feeling!
2. What advice do you have for others who have a dream in their heart, but aren't sure how to go about making it a reality?
I think what keeps a person from chasing their dreams isn’t necessarily fear of failure, but uncertainty of “how” to go about it? I remember feeling that way often, especially when I was receiving hordes of rejection letters from literary agents! Personally, I found it helpful and encouraging to seek others in my position— some who were striving for similar dreams, and some who had achieved theirs. By joining groups and clubs, and even mailing lists, I was introduced to others with the same goals and ambitions...and questions. I was able to communicate with people who had experience and knowledge I lacked about writing, and who encouraged me to keep moving forward in the pursuit of my dream.
3. Why did you choose the topic of steroids to center your novel around?
Steroids are a topic I am familiar with, in a similar capacity as the story's protagonist, Spencer. My struggles with steroid abuse occurred from ages 16 to 18, and were driven by many of the same feelings as Spencer's use. For Spencer and myself, steroids were not a vice specifically for athletic reasons or bodybuilding, as most people seem to assume of steroid users, but for a self-esteem makeover, mainly, internally, where lacking courage, and fading self-worth could somehow be “fixed” by using these chemicals.
4. How did you personally escape this addiction?
My personal escape from the belief that I 'needed' the steroids, unfortunately, took much longer than Spencer's, but it was by similar means. I had some very positive and uplifting people in my life, but I separated myself from them during my use, mainly because I was afraid they would try to make me stop. But I let one person in, my wife, who was my girlfriend then, and her strength, encouragement, and faith in me and in God, was the catalyst for my change. She reminded me of my value, which is something so many young people struggle with. What I learned, is that if you can somehow let one person through the barriers you put up, they may be the person who has been placed in you life for a reason.
5. Are you ever tempted to resume use? If so, what keeps you strong?
I have been tempted several times throughout the years, even recently, when self-image struggles creep back up. But when I think about my life, there is nothing that is worth risking for the temporary and artificial effects of the steroids.
6. Your main character is an athlete. What's your favorite sport and/or favorite team?
Well, being a native northerner and living across the lake from Chicago, I've always been a fan of the Bears, Cubs, and Bulls. Football is my favorite sport to watch and play, which may be why I added it to the story.
7. Without giving away the plot, do you have a favorite scene or chapter in Fixed By Force?
Can I pick two? ;)
I really like the scene when Spencer uses for the first time, since it illustrates the desperation of his use, and the “change” that occurs in the first moments of his addiction.
Also, the most affecting scene for me, personally, is his desperate late night injection into his triceps, when he 'battles' against his own body.
8. I write for and speak to predominately high school and college-aged women. We talk frequently about pressures to be thin, to wear the right clothes, to do well in school, to have a boyfriend, etc. What kinds of pressures or expectations are put on young men in today's society?
There are a lot of pressures on young men to be 'masculine' and 'tough'. And societal expectations often say this means having six-pack abs, never crying, or liking only so-called 'manly' hobbies, like sports. I remember feeling incredible pressure to be muscular and attractive, like every 'desirable' male celebrity on magazine covers. Young men often forget their value for things like their creativity, sense of humor, thoughtfulness, empathy, etc. I am hoping this story may inspire young men to focus on those traits more than the societal pressures of 'being a man.'
9. What one thing do you think young women should understand about the psyche of a young man, that they probably don't get?
I think young women should consider that young men are often just as insecure as they are. Young men can be just as negatively affected by hurtful insults about their self-image.
10. What are the traits you were looking for in a wife?
I love that my wife can be silly and laid-back. I was really drawn to her confidence in her personality and her drive to accomplish her goals. And she is beautiful, but her true beauty has always shined brightest in her love and empathy for others.
11. Your website is incredibly cool! I love the audio as soon as you enter. Who did the narrating of the chapters? Is it you?
Thanks! Yes, all of the audio is my voice. I used Wix Website Builder for the site, which is an easy to use Flash website creating software, and I use audacity (free recording software), for the audio recoding.
12. Do you have another book in the works we can look forward to?
I actually have several in the works, but which one I finish and release first may depend on what readers are looking for!
I have been working for some time on a book based on Janelle's life, who is a main character from, Fix by Force, and also on a YA book, which is a realistic, take on the “superhero” genre. I’ve loved this subject since being an avid comic book reader in my youth
Thanks, Jason, for taking time to chat with us today. Okay, readers, what do you think Jason’s next book should be about?
Laura L. Smith